Sometimes when you have a life-changing experience, it’s all you can talk about. Other times, you’re shocked speechless. ARMY fell into both camps after j-hope’s headlining performance at Lollapalooza on July 31, 2022, but the clear consensus among the fandom was that our world would never be the same again. From the setlist to the execution to the audience, “Hobipalooza” was an unquestionably historic event.
j-hope’s performance set an extraordinary number of records as the first Korean artist to headline a major US music festival and the highest ticket-seller in Lollapalooza history. It also marked the first debut of a BTS solo album in concert, and the first live performance by any BTS member since the group announced their focus on solo work. j-hope was candid about the level of pressure he felt over VLive, but expressed that the “nervousness [was] also a fun factor” while preparing.
ARMY also prepared for j-hope’s performance, albeit in many different ways. Some showed up only for j-hope’s hour and ten-minute set, while others also attended TXT’s performance the day before, or enjoyed the entirety of Lollapalooza (including bandmate Jimin, who arrived on Saturday to support j-hope). A portion of those who arrived early claimed spots nearest j-hope’s stage on Sunday, camping out for up to twelve hours. Regardless of when ARMYs arrived, Mang, Arson t-shirts, and ARMY bombs abounded by the time Sunday evening rolled around. For the many ARMYs in the crowd who were unable to score tickets to the much smaller “Permission To Dance” tour venues, “Hobipalooza” was an exciting first BTS live performance.
Seeing ARMYs watch The Kid Laroi’s performance, which took place directly before j-hope’s, highlighted the uniqueness of our fandom. Instead of pushing and shoving, ARMYs made sure everyone around them felt comfortable and struck up conversations with new acquaintances. Though young children aren’t allowed to attend Lollapalooza, ARMY’s intergenerational presence was still clearly present in the many middle-aged fans who joined the festival’s traditionally young adult audience base. Moreover, many of the audience members who left after Laroi’s performance were male-presenting, demonstrating the significance of ARMY as a predominantly female space. This was only underscored when Laroi’s fans began chanting derogatory remarks about j-hope as they left, sadly demonstrating the persistent marginalization and hate still facing BTS and ARMY.
In response, ARMYs simply turned their attention to the night’s main event. In an unprecedented move, j-hope was introduced by none other than Chicago’s mayor. The noise of the 200,000+ member crowd was deafening as the text for Intro from Jack In The Box appeared onscreen, followed by j-hope himself springing out of a giant box on the stage.
Clad in an all black ensemble featuring a ripped, oversized t-shirt and Louis Vuitton pants, j-hope wasted no time launching into a head-banging version of MORE to open the show. Over the course of the first half of his set, it was clear the audience were seeing a version of j-hope like never before. His make up and choreography were minimal, instead replaced by head-banging, rawer rapping, and more curse words than we’ve heard from him (much to the excitement of the audience). Mixing newer songs such as Pandora’s Box with darker songs such as Base Line from Hope World, j-hope led the audience on a journey of his discography that even included a verse from BTS Cypher Pt. 1 for “all the O.G. ARMYs out there.”
Closing out the hard-hitting set was Hangsang, performed with slick, minimal grooving to the deafening audience fanchants. j-hope followed with socially conscious performances of P.O.P. (Piece Of Peace), = (Equal Sign), and STOP that emphasized the importance of anti-discrimination through English lyric translations onscreen.
The singer demonstrated his slower and more self-reflective side with Blue Side and Safety Zone, which discuss his personal insecurities. In a touching moment, j-hope pointed at Jimin while singing the lyrics “Where’s my safe zone? Let me know, if you know,” to acknowledge Jimin’s support and comfort.
Jimin returned the favor during the upbeat second half of j-hope’s set, dancing along to songs including Outro: Ego and Hope World, which debuted with new choreography. j-hope also busted out new moves to Dynamite, much to the delight of the crowd who sang every word. As drone shots panned over hundreds of thousands of glowing ARMY bombs, “Hobipalooza” concluded with Trivia: Just Dance and a surprise debut of Chicken Noodle Soup live with Becky G.
As j-hope closed his set with Future amid fireworks and resounding applause, one thing was abundantly clear. The future of BTS and ARMY remains to be unwritten; however, if “Hobipalooza” is any indication, we will continue to push boundaries and make history in BTS’ newest chapter.
Written by: Mariko
Edited by: Dae
Designed by: Achan
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